According to reports, billed as the first of their kind in the country, two major high-capacity transmission corridors, exclusively meant for renewable energy, are being set up in Tamil Nadu. Estimated to a cost Rs. 4,400 crore, the corridors are capable of evacuating at least 2,000 megawatt (MW) each, says an official of the Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation (Tantransco), which is executing the transmission projects.
One corridor is from Kayathar of Tuticorin district to Sholinganallur, now part of the limits of Chennai Corporation, and the other, between Thappagundu of Theni district to Salem. The first corridor, covering about 700 km, is likely to be commissioned by March next while the other line, with a length of about 400 km, is expected to be ready by 2014 end. Aimed at addressing concerns of investors in the wind energy sector regarding inadequate evacuation facilities in the State, the two corridors will take care of the State’s future requirements too. As per an estimate, the next five years may witness capacity addition of 5,000 MW in the Tirunelveli, Theni and Udumalpet regions. Two more factors have compelled the authorities to take up these transmission projects. The centres of electricity consumption are located at a considerable distance from the centres of wind energy. Chennai and the neighbouring districts of Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram in the north have emerged as major consumption centres while three passes – Shencottah, Aralvoimozhi and Cumbum – out of the four having high wind potential — are in the south. The Palghat pass is in the west. Given the capacity of the existing transmission network, not everything generated in the south can be transmitted to the north.
Secondly, to some extent, the transmission line meant for evacuating power from the proposed Kudankulam Nuclear Power Station is being used to transmit from windmills. Once the Kudankulam Station is commissioned shortly, that line can no longer be relied upon.
In respect of the Thappagundu-Salem corridor and a small stretch involving Kayathar-Kanarpatti-Tirunelveli, contracts have not yet been awarded. The authorities are planning to complete it soon. The transmission projects are being funded by the Rural Electrification Corporation and Power Finance Corporation, both agencies of the Central government.